India: Situation report on Rajasthan drought 24 Jan 2003

Nature of Disaster : Drought
This year Rajasthan is facing one of the worst droughts of the century. This is the fifth continuous drought year in the state and all the 32 districts are affected.

The state received only 220.4 mm rainfall up to 30th September, against the normal of 518.6 mm of the overall monsoon. The overall state rainfall deficit is -57.5% and the rainfall deviation ranges from -90.1% in Bikaner district to -32.0% in Jhalawar district. As per the latest data, 18 out of 32 districts falls in scanty rainfall category (-60% or less) and 14 districts falls in deficient rainfall category (-20% to -59%). Ajmer, Banswara, Bharatpur, Chittorgarh, Dausa, Dungarpur, Jalore, Jalawar, Kota and Sawai madhopur districts received considerable rainfall in the month of September.

District wise detail of rainfall up to 30th September is given at Fig-1 and Table-1.

Block wise rain (mm) received from June 1 to Jan 24, 2003 in different districts of Rajasthan

Damage by Sector

Drinking Water

There is severe drinking water scarcity in all the 32 drought affected districts, and the situation will further worsen in the coming months. As per the assessment of Government drinking water need to be transported through railways, truck and tankers in 12,430 villages out of a total of 41,000 drought affected villages. The State government has prepared an emergency plan of Rs. 5.18 billion for 22,430 habitations for drinking water arrangements in coming summer, out of which Rs.3.56 billion would be spent in rural areas and Rs.1.62 billion in urban areas. Government has started work on an emergency plan of Rs 106.5 million for worst drought hit 48 blocks of the state.

In the Southern part of Rajasthan, out of a total of out of a total 150 reservoirs with capacity more than 150 Mcft. Only 3 are releasing water for irrigation. Water for drinking purposes has been reserved by PHED in 6 reservoirs (Udaipur and Rajsamand included) while the rest have no water at all.

In Jhalawar district, according to the District Collector, till date there is no problem of drinking water in the district but in coming months water supply would be required in 532 drought affected villages.

Agriculture (crops, irrigation)

The rabi crop is being adversely affected due to non-congenial temperature this winter. If the condition does not change in the coming months, rabi production may fall by 60 percent. This year due to scarce moisture content in soil, only 2,586,000 hectares area is sown under different rabi crops in comparison to 6,097,000 hectares of last Rabi season.

In the Southern Rajasthan districts, this year the sowing in Rabi season has been more than the target set by the Agricultural Department. This is the first time in last three years that the sowing is more than the target. However the sowing this year is 45% less than last year. It seems that the target set by the department was pessimistic while the farmers could not hold themselves from sowing the lucrative wheat and Horse-gram crops. The overall sown hectarage for Rabi season has also gone high because of increased sowing of green fodder by farmers in Udaipur, Banswara and Dungarpur districts.

Livestock, Fodder

Fodder scarcity for cattle and small animals particularly in the western districts of Rajasthan is a major concern for the state now. Animal carcasses can be seen in the Western districts along the roadsides. The situation is Southern division has a better situation in terms of fodder security (except Rajsamand). In many parts of Udaipur, Banswara and Dungarpur people have fodder till March.

No measures are being undertaken by the state government to provide nutritional feed to the cattle population. The health status of the animals and the produce is thus decreasing and will be a major cause of mortality in the coming months.

The other major concern is the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in certain pockets of Western RajasthanThe winter months are the most vulnerable months for the animals to get infected by this disease. The district administrations in these districts have not taken any major step to vaccinate the animals against outbreak of this disease.

Drought Relief Works

The ongoing drought emergency relief works by the state government have major bottlenecks, which needs attention from all sections involved in planning and implementing the programme. The quality of the employment generation programmes under Cash and Food for Work is poor due to zero-material component. Besides that, activities like road constriction or digging traditional rainwater harvesting structures, which have already been desilted in previous drought years, have only short-term gains. The number of families actually getting employment is far low than what required.

Delayed payments are another concern in all the districts of the state. In some places people have not been paid for the last muster roll of Nov. 2002, which means that the delay is of about 2 months, putting more pressure on the communities who need immediate relief.

Projected evolution / Secondary Threats

  • Drinking water to become severely scarce in rural as well as in urban areas across the state
  • Increase in food insecurity for medium-small farmers and for agriculture labourers.
  • Increased mortality of animals in the coming months due to unavailability of fodder and health care measures
  • Non-farm activities will also be affected
  • Migration in search of employment in the coming months.

Administrative Measures:

The state government is providing relief all across the 32 districts through employment generation, distribution of drinking water, opening fodder depots, organizing cattle camps and operationalising the state governments regular programmes for providing emergency relief.

In the Western district of Barmer, the district administration has identified 600 points (remote habitations) and distributing of drinking water has been initiated in 150 such points. Special care has been paid by the concerned departments to ensure that the hand pumps, bore wells, pipeline connections are functional in the coming months. 125,000 people are being covered under Cash and Food for Work in the entire district and 100,000 animals are benefiting from the ongoing cattle camps organised.

In Southern Rajasthan, 305 villages are being supplied water through 635 tankers and a total of 153,250 people is benefiting of it across Udaipur district. Till the first muster-roll of January (Jan.1st to Jan 10th) 88,441 individuals were employed under various famine relief (FR) works (Drought relief and dovetailed programs). And the programmes for distribution of fodder mini-kits and awareness generation for growing green fodder implemented by the Agriculture Department have been giving good results. Last year the fodder sowing was 3,500Ha whereas it has gone up to 7945 Ha (target for this year was 6,800 Ha).

The situation of green fodder is better in the Southern districts.

In Jaipur, the district administration has decided to identify more drought-hit families in the cities and provide them wheat and cash under the government drought relief works. Under this scheme every person that is considered to be drought affected is given 50 kg wheat and Rs 30/ cash. So far 9,648 people living in the city municipal limits have been included in the drought-hit category.

In Jodhpur District, the District administration has sanctioned 2,836 drought relief works, which will provide employment to over 88,000 laborers. The administration also plans to organize more than 200 veterinary camps in Jodhpur division to examine the drought-affected cattle. The camp would be organized by the Animal Husbandry Department in association with some NGOs. Cattle in Barmer, Sirohi,Jaisalmer,Jodhpur Jalore and Pali districts are to be covered under this scheme. As per Divisional commissioner, Jodhpur, earlier 800 similar veterinary camps were successfully organied benefiting more than 500,000 animals in the division.

The state Government has approved a plan outlay of Rs 56.786 billion for the year 2003-2004. The outlay in the previous year, Rs 51.6 billion had been later slashed to Rs 43.707 billion to mobilize funds for combating drought.

Voluntary organizations in the state have been provided interest-free loans worth Rs 125 million by the state government for making fodder available for cattle shed in drought-hit areas. Out of the total funds available, loans worth Rs17 million have been made available to Jodhpur District, Rs14.4 million in Pali, Rs 13.8 million in Ajmer, Rs 12.5 million in Churu, Rs12 million in Barmer and Rs10 million in Jaisalmer. A sum of Rs. 1.16 billion has been provided to different Districts for relief works to counter drought in the state. A sum of Rs 13.2 million was sanctioned for medicines, Rs 200 million for water supply, Rs 217 million for tanker repair, Rs 41.9 million for gratuitous relief and Rs 150 million for other works.

UNDP Intervention

Coordination Meetings

UNDP in association with the District Administration has organised more than 20 district level coordination meeting to share information on a common platform of the drought emergency relief measures taken up by different government agencies and other actors in the district. The coordination meetings held so far have helped in assessing the ground realities from time to time and identifying gap areas.

Drought Emergency Relief Programme

UNDP has initiated drought emergency relief programme in Barmer district. The project is providing immediate relief to human and cattle population in the selected villages by generating employment opportunities and organizing vaccination camps for the animals. The other major intervention in the programme is to provide for nutritional feed to the cattle population in the existing cattle camps being run by district administration and NGOs.

Source of Information:

  • State Control Room, GoG
  • Agriculture Dept, GoG
  • Media Reports
  • Field Reports from UNVs
  • District Coordination Meetings organised by District Collectors in collaboration with UNDP
  • India Meteorological department